NSA Uses Special Google Cookies to Aid in Surveillance
In another news item released this week from the seemingly never-ending treasure trove that is the leaked Edward Snowden documents, which detail the spying activities of the National Security Agency (NSA), the Washington Post reports that “when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government.” Yes, this means that the NSA is taking advantage of cookies and location data to help its surveillance operations. From the Washington Post:
Google's PREF cookie reportedly gets loaded onto a computer when they use Google's products, like Search or Maps—it can also be loaded through sites that host Google products, like an embedded map on a third-party site. That cookie contains a code that lets Google track users to personalize their ad experience.All of this new tracking news comes at a time when “eight of the most prominent U.S. tech companies have demanded that strict new limits be put on government surveillance,” the Atlantic Monthly reports. The magazine’s story discusses a letter to President Obama and Congress that was crafted by Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and AOL. The open letter addresses the companies’ concerns that their liberties are being compromised by the government’s activities, and they need to rebuild trust in the public’s eye. For more on the news of how the NSA “piggybacks” on Google’s tracking tools, check out the following interview with Post contributor Ashkan Soltani who describes the NSA’s ability for “laser–guided” targeting thanks to the cookies.